Dysmha Review in Igloo Magazine
May 2009) Dark Ambient (tm) is a perverse musical enterprise in that, like the horror film, unpalatability becomes a positive attribute, a measure of a work's success. So, if such a work should be described as awful, dreadful, ear-befouling, this may be constructed as a note of positive appraisal, albeit not necessarily of warm embrace. If you're looking for (hubble-bubble toil and) trouble, you've come to the right place. Yes, if it's Dark you're looking for, Dysmha has it. In spades.
Definitely not one for those of delicate ambient sensibilities, Dysmha creeps malevolently into the "doombient" bag with the emphasis on the doom- rather than the (am)bient. DQ (Doom Quotient) is cranked down past the fuzz/buzz-point where you'd locate Fear Falls Burning, and past the gruzz/scuzz-point of Nadja, rendered namby-pambient by comparison. Nearest spirit-kin for these diseased slabs of creeping audio-efflatus would be in the sludge dungeons of Sunn O))). Walls of corrosive guitar, theremin and audio-scum are stirred together into a foul brew of purulent atmospheres of oppressive expressivity. That's opener, "Deathbed Memory." An excoriating pitch black exercise of asphyxiating dense guitar sludge dredged up from some Stygian depths, all toxic brimstone and bitter treacle, is its companion piece "Ghost with No Conscious," a harbinger of no less nihilist doom-gloom.
Now Michael Peck, previously known for a rather elegant strain of glacial ambient-electronica, has no previous form for such dystopian tracts. But he certainly reinvents himself convincingly here as documenter of dystopia. These great belches of withering steel-scuzz are not spewed up from Peck's processor out of the sheer bloody-mindedness of experimenting with a different look. He's not Being Dark, just for the sake of it. It's an aesthetic choice, a deliberate change of voice for articulation of a howl of protest. A searing blast of pent up frustration against a toxic Republican regime, finally let out after years of suppressed revolt. Released the day Bush left office (January 20th, 2009), the punning title plays on the phonetico-semantics of 'dismal'/'dismay,' with a downcast eye to the world's future and the US's deleterious role as steersman charting a course for oblivion. A work in which the bilious vapours of its sounds - the very air coming off it as it leaks thickly from speakers besmirched by its scabrous delivery - seem to crawl with nightmare effluvia. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
Posted by Michael Peck